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Nigeria: Rights group petitions court over poverty, malnutrition

By JohnThomas Didymus     Mar 5, 2012 in World
Abuja - A recent study carried out on behalf of a UK charity organization shows that Nigeria ranks along with India, Bangladesh, Peru and Pakistan as countries where half of the world's most malnourished children live.
Vanguard reports that following the publication of the study, a Nigerian rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has filed a petition before the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights in Arusha, Tanzania, asking the court to "consider the effects of corruption on the poverty level in Nigeria and whether the rising and systemic poverty violates specific human rights under the African Charter on Human and peoples' Rights."
Globscan, an international polling agency, carried out the study titled A Life Free from Hunger: Tackling Child Malnutrition, on behalf of the UK charity organization, Save the Children. The study analysed the causes of malnutrition in developing economies and its effect on children.
According to the study, majority of people polled in Nigeria and Peru, say they have, in recent times, reduced the quantity of food they buy for their children for economic reasons. According to the poll, families are eating less because of rising prices, and variety in people's diet is being affected. In at least a third of the countries polled, including Nigeria, people say they eat the same local staple food all week.
The poll showed that the problem of quantity and quality is particularly pronounced in Nigeria with only one in four saying they can afford more nutritious food.
In four of the five countries polled, at least half say they are "sometimes" or "never" able to afford more nutritious food such as meat, milk or vegetables for their family.
Nigeria and Bangladesh ranked highest among countries where people say rising price of food is the most pressing challenge they are facing. As expected, in all countries polled, the impact was found to be most pronounced among the low-income groups and people with low level of education.
The incidence of hunger was also found to be significant in the countries polled. A majority of families with children under 16 say their children complain they do not have enough food to eat.
Nigeria and India have the highest proportions of people saying their children "often" or "sometimes" go without food for a whole day. Low income people or people with three or more school-age children in Peru, Nigeria and India are the most likely to say their children go hungry for whole days at a time.
According to the poll, Nigeria has the highest rate (three in 10) of parents of school-age children, saying they keep their children away from school to help them earn money to pay for the family's feeding.
The report says: “In Nigeria and India, the highest populated countries in Africa and South Asia respectively, parents appear to be struggling the most to feed their children. Specifically, about a quarter of parents in Nigeria (27%) and in India (24%) report that their children go without food for an entire day — not surprisingly, in both countries, those who have more than one child, are less educated or have low income are more likely to report this.”
The Punch noted that half-a-billion children could grow up physically and mentally stunted over the next 15 years because they do not have enough to eat.
The study authors say the surveys were carried out face-to-face. Only Bangladesh participated through telephone interviews. The population samples taken were representative of the entire populations except in Bangladesh where only those with mobile phones were taken.
According to the study, participants in Nigeria were allowed to answer questions in English, Hausa, Igbo and pidgin English.
SERAP petitions African Court
SERAP's petition to the African Court follows the report by the UK-based charity organization.
According to Vanguard, SERAP's Executive Director, Mr. Adetokunbo Mumuni, in the petition filed before Dr. Robert Eno, the court’s Acting Registrar, urged the court to consider the “disclosure last month by the Statistician-General of the Federation and CEO of the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, Yemi Kale that 112.519 million Nigerians, that is around seventy per-cent of the country’s estimated 163 million population, live in relative poverty conditions.”
Vanguard reports the group is asking the African court "to assess the legal and human rights consequences of poverty, including whether increased poverty breaches the right to equality and non-discrimination, right of the people to socio-economic development, and their right to natural wealth and resources.”
According to SERAP: “The question for determination has been framed in terms of law, and raises problem of human rights law as established by the African Charter. The request by its very nature is susceptible of a reply based on law; indeed it is scarcely susceptible of a reply otherwise than on the basis of law. As such, the request is not affected by the provisions of article 34(6) of the African Court Protocol, requiring declaration by states as a condition of access to the court.”
More about Nigeria, Malnutrition, Poverty, african court, SERAP
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